Tips and Tools for Taking Control of Your CIO-SP4 Destiny

November 06, 2020

Like the holidays, CIO-SP4 (Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners 4), a multi-award, government-wide acquisition contract focused on providing information technology (IT) products and services in the health and biomedical fields, will be here before we know it. With the request for proposal (RFP) scheduled for December 2020, now is a critical time for contractors to plan their bidding strategy and execute their plans.

The Two Kinds of Contractors

It’s been said that there are two kinds of government contractors. Type A contractors (like savvy firms working off August’s draft RFP) leverage all advantages at their disposal by augmenting their competitive arsenal to pass Phase 1, the down-select phase. Those contractors move to Phase 2, where the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) evaluates down-selected bidders based on their proposal and best value.

In contrast, Type B contractors just hope for the best that their current capabilities will take them to Phase 2.

Which type of contractor is your organization?

Whether you answered Type A or Type B, we have tips and tool that can help. Read on.

The Back Story

For readers new to CIO-SP4, here’s the back story. Like CIO-SP3, CIO-SP4 is an IDIQ (indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity) contract administered by NITAAC. IDIQ contracts cover an indefinite quantity of supplies or services during a fixed period of time. Specifically, SP4 is designed for quick ordering of affordable IT solutions and services across 10 task areas: IT services for biomedical research, health sciences and healthcare; CIO support; digital media; outsourcing; IT operations and maintenance; integration services; cybersecurity; digital government and cloud services; enterprise resource planning; and software development. Top IT service buyers are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense and Department of Agriculture, and cyber- and digital-services contractors should be especially interested in securing a spot on the CIO-SP4 contract.

Also like CIO-SP3, CIO-SP4 will award $40 billion in contracts ($20 billion to unrestricted contractors and $20 billion to small and mid-sized contractors). While CIO-SP3 included spots for 52 unrestricted contractors and 237 small and mid-sized businesses, CIO-SP4 will award contracts to 75-125 unrestricted contractors and 200-300 small and mid-sized businesses. CIO-SP3’s 10-year period of performance will end in 2022. CIO-SP4’s period of performance is expected to be 15 years (a five-year base period with two five-year options).

As with previous IDIQ contracts, NITAAC has indicated it will evaluate contractors in two phases. In phase one, NITAAC will rank all bidders on a self-scoring sheet, and the highest scorers will be down-selected. Out of a possible 10,000 points, the biggest point-earning opportunities will likely be related to the following categories: the contractor’s corporate experience (up to 4,500 points), leading-edge technology (up to 1,800 points), and performance on complex and multiple-award contracts (up to 1,200 points). The points earned in these categories are basically fixed in stone, as they are determined by the contractor’s history.

Good News and How You Can Maximize Your Opportunity

An important CIO-SP4 differentiator that fulfills both a pre-award recommendation and can be implemented quickly is an earned value management system (EVMS). Proof of having a compliant EVMS earns contractors 300 additional points, taking them closer to being down-selected. EVMS is a widely accepted performance methodology that integrates project scope with cost and schedule data to help contractors understand whether they are on schedule and on budget and answers these questions:

  • What are the significant variances and why do they exist?
  • What is the trend to date, and how can we control it?
  • When will we finish and what will it cost?

The benefit of meeting the EVMS requirements with a solution like Deltek Cobra is that it includes the CIO-SP4-required EVMS description, validation review and two months of reporting support to demonstrate performance on a current contract. Regular use of EVMS post-CIO-SP4 award is a huge long-term benefit to project management.

Small and mid-sized businesses that want more control over their CIO-SP4 destiny can gain an additional competitive advantage in a fourth category that demonstrating superior corporate governance and operations with business system investments in a purchasing, estimating and/or ISO/IEC 27000 solution. The benefit of implementing a solution such as Deltek Costpoint to manage back office processes, like finance, accounting and procurement, is that it not only improves a contractor’s service to federal agencies, it was built to address the compliance required project by project. Though an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like Costpoint is not required to compete for CIO-SP4, having it in time to manage the contract is definitely framed by the architects of CIO-SP4 as an “important to have” because it will help over the lifecycle of the award.

Timing is Everything

With the final CIO-SP4 request for proposal being released in the first quarter of 2021, and proposals expected to be due in the second quarter, time is of the essence. Because Deltek Cobra can be implemented in as little as four weeks, the EVMS solution can be in place quickly to begin producing the  two months of reporting on a current contract that CIO-SP4 requires as a proof point for proposal submission.

And, if migrating to a more powerful management tool for your back office has been a topic of conversation within your organization, there is no better time to consider an investment like Costpoint to better manage the lifecycle of CIO-SP4 and all other future work.

So, if you want a leg up on the competition with additional EVMS points, request a Deltek Cobra demo so we can put you in touch with a dedicated Deltek EVMS specialist.